Dimitri Shostakovich: Symphony No.9 in E Flat, Op.70, mvt. 3: Presto
St Petersburg Kirov Orchestra
The ninth symphony was originally intended to be a celebration of the Russian victory over Nazi Germany in World War II (see Eastern Front). The composer declared in October 1943 that the symphony would be a large composition for orchestra, soloists and chorus “about the greatness of the Russian people, about our Red Army liberating our native land from the enemy”.
In a meeting with his students on 16 January 1945, Shostakovich informed them that the day before he had begun work on a new symphony. A week later, he told them that he had reached the middle of the development section, and the work was going to open with a big tutti. Isaak Glikman heard around ten minutes of the music Shostakovich had written for the first movement in late April, which he described as “majestic in scale, in pathos, in its breathtaking motion”. But then Shostakovich dropped the composition for three months. He resumed work on 26 July 1945 and finished on 30 August 1945. The symphony turned out to be a completely different work from the one he had originally planned, with neither soloists nor chorus and a much lighter mood. He forewarned listeners, “In character, the Ninth Symphony differs sharply from my preceding symphonies, the Seventh and the Eighth. If the Seventh and the Eighth symphonies bore a tragic-heroic character, then in the Ninth a transparent, pellucid, and bright mood predominates.”